NY Islanders alum Arron Asham on representing Indigenous people and paying it forward

New York Islanders v Washington Capitals
New York Islanders v Washington Capitals / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

Arron Asham stood out for the New York Islanders as a player that could score, deliver a hit and even drop the gloves. That combination of skills earned him a reputation for being able to complement and protect his teammates. That style of play served Asham well throughout his 15-year career, including four on Long Island from 2002-2007.

However, there has always been much more to Asham's story. His family is from the Kinosota settlement in Manitoba, a little north of where he grew up in Portage la Prarie, and his great-grandfather was the chief of the Ebb and Flow Reservation. As a player of Native American descent, Asham has prioritized making himself a role model to young players from the same background or facing similar hardships.

For years, Asham and fellow Islanders alum with Native American roots, Hall-of-Famer Bryan Trottier, have participated in an Indigenous Alumni Tour of NHL players, visiting communities and talking to kids about their experiences growing up and their path to the NHL.

"For those kids, in those remote areas, I think it's huge for them, Asham said in a "Hockey is for Everyone" interview back in 2020. "They get to see indigenous players that live like them and went through the things they went through achieve their goals. I think it's very important."

As he started to excel at the game of hockey, Asham received financial support from the reservation along with friends and family. Now, through Arron's Chance 2 Play Foundation, Asham is paying it forward for all types of players from a variety of backgrounds. "It deviates the cost of travel, equipment, registration, and hotels, Asham during in an After The Island feature. We try to help out as many kids as we can because it is a very expensive sport."

In retirement, Asham keeps busy and around the game by serving as a youth hockey coach for the 16U AAA Islanders of the USPHL. "I wanna make sure they are having fun, Asham said of his goals as a coach. "Make sure they are learning to play the game the right way, the honest way, and keep coming back to the rink every day.